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Beginner’s Guide to Planning an International Family Reunion

Written by Tasmiah Rashid

This blog post was updated on September 27, 2019.

Picture this: it’s a warm, sunlit evening and you’re walking down a beach on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast in Italy. To your right, your children, nieces, and nephews are running along the sand, the sound of their laughter against the ocean waves echoing in the breeze. To the left, their grandparents, your siblings, and loved ones watch in delight, their laughter adding to the sound of joy surrounding you. Sound like a dream come true?

A family reunion abroad can be a dream-like experience, but only with the right planning! Coordinating people across states and nations, with different budgets and across multiple age groups…now that’s quite the feat to accomplish. So where to begin? Right here!

We’ve put together a list of simple tips to help you plan an international family reunion that you and your loved ones will remember for a lifetime.

Start Planning Early

OT Family Reunion - Plan Early

Remember how difficult it was to plan that big birthday bash for yourself? Guestlists, reservations, cost estimates—the list of things to-dos was endless. Now imagine planning that, but with more people from different parts of the world and of all ages, in a foreign destination. Yikes!

Putting together an international trip for a large group requires a ton of coordination, so your best bet is to start planning at least a year in advance. The sooner you confirm the destination, dates and attendee list the sooner everyone can book their round trip flights and accommodations. And, don’t forget, the closer you get to the date, the fewer the choices and higher the prices become.

Pro-tip: Do you have a really big extended family to coordinate for this trip? Why not mail out some send-the-dates? Yep, just like in a wedding, confirmations and headcounts are imperative when it comes to coordinating those big-group-vacations. There’s nothing that says “respond asap” better than a nice postcard of Uncle Joey, sunburned and in a Hawaiian shirt, smiling back at you every time you reach for the fridge.

Get booking asap! Find round trip flights for you and your loved ones right here!

Do Some Heavy Research on Your Destination

OT Family Reunion - Research

Timbuktu to Thailand, wherever you decide to go for your family reunion, remember to choose a destination where everyone can have a good time. This means: it’s time to roll up those sleeves and do some serious due diligence on what the area you’re traveling to has to offer. Is there accommodation that is in a central location that can hold a big reservation like yours? Does it have enough amenities to meet your family’s needs? What’s the weather like that time of year? Does the area has enough activities for all ages to partake in? Once you’ve chosen your destination, you’ll want to get all this information about the area before you even book your round trip flights.

Create a Group Drive for Photos Ahead of Time

OT Family Reunion - Photos

Group trips are all about making memories and in the digital age, you know what that means: pictures galore! Sure, the instant gratification of clicking and posting on social media on the spot and in the moment is great, but you’re also going to want to be able to go back and see all those pictures at a later date…without having to comb through ten people’s facebook pages. Coordinating a big group to share their images one place can be a difficult task. People might forget, older members might not know how to upload them…the list goes on and on. When you’re in planning mode, create an online drive and share the link in advance with your family members; it’s the best way to ensure all the pictures make it into the hands of everyone without having to do some mass coordinating post-trip.

Choose a Ringleader…

…or become one yourself. Whether your international family reunion is for eight people or eighty people total, you’re going to need one person to take the reins to plan and lead group activities. From meals to mass outings, this person is going to be doing some heavy lifting in coordinating, making reservations and creating an itinerary, so make sure you all elect someone you know to be a master planner to take on this role for your group. Of course, other family members can (and should) help out on all these tasks and assist in making the decisions on things like where to go and what activities to do, but be careful when delegating tasks, you don’t want five different people making twenty different dinner reservations, for thirty people!

Pro-tip: Plan your meals in advance! If you plan on having family dinner while you’re on this reunion, arrange the details and make your reservations ahead of your trip. At a resort or staying in a place that includes meals? Ask if they have buffet options. Not only will this help you avoid the stress of trying to put in many orders at once and won’t have a long wait for your tall order of food to come out. And, yes, even for a buffet, don’t forget to call ahead and let them know that you’re going to be a big group coming in so that the restaurant can properly accommodate you.

Make a Detailed Itinerary

OT Family Reunion - Itinerary

And be prepared to only really get to half of it. Making an itinerary is imperative. While going with the flow seems relaxing on the outset, when you’re trying to wrangle a big crowd to get to do something together, it’s not going to be an easy feat to accomplish if it’s unplanned. Fun and spontaneous midnight ice cream runs are one thing, but if you’re trying to get everyone to participate in a group activity, between varied budgets, interests, and ages, coordinating it all last-minute is going to be pretty difficult.

That being said, don’t forget that you’re on vacation! Your family members are probably going to want to get their own share of downtime, so just keep in mind that there are going to be activities, outings, and dinners that people will miss out on, or that might not even happen at all. Having a loose itinerary ahead of time will allow you and your loved ones to see what plans they want to join in on, and which ones they don’t—something especially helpful for activities that require advanced bookings.


Have any tips of your own on how to plan an international family reunion? Tell us below in the comments section!

About the author

Tasmiah Rashid

In a past life, Tasmiah was either a Bollywood actress, renowned ethnographer or master chef; no questions asked. In this one, she is a shower-singing, croissant enthusiast, who also writes content for Fareportal, in that order.

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